Feeders and Feathers

Today has been a wonderful day of relaxation with my family. My brother came for the afternoon and we all sat down and enjoyed a delicious pot roast, followed by warm slices of wild blueberry pie. All the while, we watched as dozens of birds stopped by to visit our feeders.

I wish I had thought to turn on the HDR feature on my iPad, but I’ll share a few of the photos I took through our sliding door. My favorite photos show the newest arrivals . . . at least two pair of Eastern Bluebirds!

The first pair arrived at the bird bath and large feeder mid-week. My husband put out some suet pellets and dried mealworms. That was a good call because another pair showed up shortly thereafter, and they have been frequent visitors ever since.

The suet has been a big hit this week, with five different feeding stations for our feathered friends. We have seen Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and the bluebirds too.  Our thistle feeders have been busy with House Finches as well as American Goldfinches with their duller winter plumage. A sure sign of spring will be when the males begin showing patches of their beautiful bright yellow feathers. I will be watching!

During the brief snowfall on Saturday morning, we counted SEVEN pair of Northern Cardinals! Some of them visit the sunflower feeders, but most seem content just foraging for seeds and cracked corn on the patio. They were joined by a dozen or more Dark-Eyed Juncos and a pair of Mourning Doves. And of course the squirrels. For the most part, everyone gets along until a Bluejay arrives, or a flock of European Starlings crashes the party.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. — Matthew‬ ‭6:26‬a

I know there are mixed feelings in the birding community of whether or not we should feed backyard birds. There are strong opinions on both sides, and obvously, I fall on the bird feeder side. From my perspective, it’s a win-win for me and the birds. I provide food, water and shelter for these beautiful creatures, and they provide me with endless hours of year-round enjoyment!

Snow Day!

Happy Wednesday!

It doesn’t matter how long I live in Virginia — I will never get used to having school cancelled with only 2 inches of snow on the ground!

Unlike my former home in Massachusetts, in Virginia they cancel school by county, not by town. Loudoun County spans an area from the Potomac River banks out to the fringe of the Blue Ridge Mountains, roughly 521 square miles. Within that area, you have a wide variation of terrain and temperatures. So, while it may be raining here closer to DC, they will have sleet and freezing rain in the western part of the county. Yesterday’s snowfall was a similar situation.

The photo above was taken this morning from my front door. Since our church administrative offices follow the local school cancellation policy, I have a snow day!


I’m happy to report that the birds — and squirrels — have all discovered our feeders. I have been enjoying my morning coffee while watching their antics.

Here are a few photos from this morning. I apologize for the poor quality, as sun had not yet made an appearance.

Yesterday, our birdbath saw as much activity as the feeders. At one point, there were American Robins, European Starlings and Mourning Doves, all trying to get a drink. Once a Bluejay arrived on the scene, all the others flew away. There is a clear “pecking order” in bird world. (Notice the lone Bluejay on the roof of the bird feeder.)

Many of my friends have given up feeding the birds because the squirrels are so persistent. We have managed to discourage them by using baffles on the feeder stands, and we try to locate the feeders away from trees. We also have one feeder with a weighted perch that closes when a larger bird or animal tries to get in. Squirrels are amazing acrobats though, and can launch themselves great distances to get to some feeders!

One other trick we’ve learned is to simply feed the squirrels. Costco carries large bags of unsalted peanuts in the shell. We always have a bag on hand, and we toss them out now and then. Northern Cardinals and Bluejays also love them! I’ve even seen a tiny Tufted Titmouse carry one away in its beak.

Signing off for now from the snowy tundra of Northern Virginia. 😀